The Duke of York’s accuser waived her right to sue him for sexual assault when she signed a 500,000 dollar (£370,000) settlement agreement, a US court has been told.
Andrew’s lawyer, Andrew B Brettler, argued during a video conference hearing that the confidential agreement Virginia Giuffre entered into with Jeffrey Epstein, who she claims trafficked her to have sex with the duke, ended her right to pursue anyone else.
The document, made public on Monday, detailed how Andrew’s accuser received a 500,000 dollar payout in 2009 and agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge” disgraced financier Epstein and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant”.
The duke’s lawyer said about the claim for damages brought by Ms Giuffre: “It is unfair, it is unjust, it should be dismissed.”
Judge Lewis A Kaplan, who is presiding over the case, told the parties at the conclusion of the hearing convened to hear arguments about dismissing the civil lawsuit that he would have a decision “very soon”.
He said: “I appreciate the arguments and the passion. You will have a decision very soon.”
During the hearing Mr Brettler said about the settlement: “I don’t know who would be included in other potential defendants – if it weren’t all of the other people who… Giuffre alleged abused her.
“She could have sued them and she did not and therefore she waived her rights to sue them when she entered into the 2009 release agreement and accepted the money from Mr Epstein.
“She did not return that money when she decided to file this lawsuit.”
Ms Giuffre is suing the Queen’s son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. She is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be millions of dollars.
She claims she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.
Andrew has denied all the allegations.
During the hearing there was legal discussion about the meaning of “potential defendant”, with Mr Brettler telling Judge Kaplan it was “someone who was not named as a defendant but could have been”.
The lawyer added that a potential defendant would be someone Ms Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, knew that she had “claims against at the time that she filed the lawsuit” in 2009 against disgraced financier Epstein, whose former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted last week of procuring teenage girls for him.
In response the judge said “potential” was a word in which neither he nor Mr Brettler could “find any meaning at all”.
The duke’s lawyer raised a second issue, claiming there was a lack of information supporting the allegations made against the duke, which he suggested should be disclosed now and not after a request for information from the royal known as discovery.
He said: “Ms Giuffre needs to lock herself into a story now.
“Not sometime in the future after she conducts discovery and figures out where the chips may fall… she needs to allege in her complaint against Prince Andrew when he supposedly abused her – I’d like even a date, a month.”
He added: “She alleges in a group pleading fashion that Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and Prince Andrew abused her in conclusory fashion. She doesn’t explain what this alleged abuse was.”
But Judge Kaplan said: “With all due respect, Mr Brettler, that’s not a dog that’s got a hunt here” and that she had no obligation to do so.
Concluding his arguments, the duke’s lawyer said the case against his client should “absolutely be dismissed”.
Mr Brettler said about Ms Giuffre: “She has given plenty of interviews all over the world, then files this lawsuit. It is unfair, it is unjust, it should be dismissed.”
The lawyer acting on behalf of Ms Giuffre, David Boies, told the virtual court hearing of the Southern District of New York, only the parties of the settlement agreement, Epstein and Ms Giuffre and their associates, could benefit from it, and not a “third party” like Andrew.
He said: “Any third party beneficiary rights would have to be asserted by the parties of the contract and could not be asserted by a potential defendant.”
Mr Boies added: “Prince Andrew could not do it, the only person who could assert this release in this case, would be Epstein.”
Ms Giuffre’s attorney said the duke would not be a “potential defendant” as referred to in the settlement, as the 2009 lawsuit made no allegation the duke had trafficked individuals for illegal sexual activity.
The lawyer told the hearing: “He was somebody to whom the girls were trafficked, that’s a different criteria.”